What we will cover
Why write a marketing plan at all?
Before I explain how to write a marketing plan, it is worth spending some time on the why. What is the value of writing a marketing plan? Well, without a plan, it will be very hard to keep everyone on the same page when marketing your products or services.
How will you set and justify your marketing budget? Which channels will you use for your campaigns and what content will you create? Who will you target? How will you know which campaigns worked, and deserve extra budget, and which flopped?
Taking a strategic approach to your marketing beats running ad-hoc campaigns in all of these areas.
How to write a marketing plan the Vu way
I’ve come across articles where marketing plans are described as a ‘high level’ tool, but while it is important to take a wide-angled view of your marketplace, you will also need to put down some hard numbers and timescales.
Since every business is unique, we recommend you book a couple of hours with a Vu Online marketing expert to customise your marketing plan to your needs (more on that later).
We have found the most effective way to create a marketing plan is to break it down into five areas: defining your marketplace, setting budgets, choosing channels and campaign targets, syncing with your customer journey and setting and reviewing targets. We also help our clients to set up a simple content calendar – so it’s not just the ‘high level’ stuff.
One of the first tasks we will work with you on is developing a few key marketing personas.
Who are you selling to?
Although marketing personas are a staple of 21st century marketing, many business owners skip the valuable process of fleshing them out.
We have written plenty of articles about marketing personas, so please read these if you want to brush up your understanding. In a nutshell, a marketing persona is a fictional representation of a core segment of your market.
They are a simple yet powerful way to focus your marketing campaigns, helping you to choose the best platform for your goals and to create content that will resonate with your audience.
The start of this simple, ask yourself “who buys my products/services?” and list out their job roles. You can go deeper into understanding them with a customer personas workshop – for now, at least we know who we are talking to.
Setting budgets and choosing platforms
With a marketing plan in place, you will have a better idea of what resources you will need. Setting an overall marketing budget will protect you from overspending. Once you know your customer personas, you can attribute an average spend to them, then think about how many you would like to acquire this year.
You will then be able to work out a financial target for the year, and if you take 5 or 10 percent of that, you will also have a marketing budget, this will prompt the question of where to spend the budget? The answer lies back with our personas, understand where they are hanging out and you will have your answer.
Connecting the dots
For example, if the bulk of your customers engage with you on Facebook or Twitter, you might want to focus on running targeted social media ad campaigns. If you find that most people discover you via Google Search, knitting together Google Ads with powerful landing pages could be the most cost-effective marketing activity for you.
Options should probably include both paid and organic channels for short term gain and long term focus. For example, you could run Google Ads campaigns alongside regular blog posting, using search engine optimisation (SEO) to maximise traffic.
It’s worth a thought towards the conversion of the customer too, with video marketing a growing trend, you could set aside some funds to produce an online explainer video to help convince visitors to become customers.
We often find that businesses struggle with driving people to their website, leading them to abandon digital marketing as a waste of time. The best way to solve this is to understand your customer journey (another separate exercise if you want to go deeper) and to sync this with your marketing activity.
Setting and reviewing your goals
As with all aspects of business, setting SMART goals tied to meaningful KPIs will be a crucial part of your marketing strategy. Once you’ve identified what works, doing more of it will almost always deliver improvements.
Just be sure to give a campaign enough time to fully assess its benefits. People often need to come across an ad or a piece of content a few times before they act upon it. Building an online presence through content creation also takes time.
Introducing the content calendar
If you really want to know how to write a marketing plan that translates to measurable engagement, you should include a content calendar, This can be as simple as a spreadsheet with individual weeks as column headings and categories of content (eg.blog posts, videos, podcasts, etc.) as rows.
This will help you to plan content deliverables across your entire marketing team. By marking important local, national or even international awareness days alongside important trade events, you can ensure your campaigns are properly structured rather than rushed out at the last minute.
Want some hands-on guidance on how to write a marketing plan?
Writing a marketing plan is best done as a team exercise, so what could be better than joining forces with a Vu marketing maestro to get your year off to the best possible start?
We can set up a strategic marketing plan workshop for you and your team where we walk you through the process from start to finish. Better still, we set practical exercises to help you build your marketing personas and design a content calendar around your unique needs.
For more information, visit our dedicated strategic marketing plan workshops page, and feel free to call or email us for an initial chat.
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